Q: I have a ton of fresh basil growing in my garden and I don’t know what to do with it! Do you have any ideas?
A: Who doesn’t love fresh basil in the summer? It brightens up any dish and fills your home with an intoxicating aroma. When I was growing herbs in my indoor herb garden, my basil plants quickly outgrew all of the other herbs and I was also faced with the happy dilemma of how to use it all up.
The technique for making basil oil is straightforward- you just need a couple of ingredients, a blender and a strainer (optional). First, blanch the basil in boiling water and then shock it in cold water to stop the cooking and lock in the vibrant color. Then, puree it all in a blender and strain it through a sieve, if desired. For a more rustic look, you can leave it unstrained. Once you know the technique, you can use it to make a wide variety of herb-infused oils. You can even add extra flavor by adding garlic or chili flakes. Here’s my recipe for homemade basil oil. Enjoy!
- 2 ounces fresh basil leaves (about 2 cups)
- 1 cup grapeseed, canola or other neutral flavored oil
- Kosher salt
First, blanch the basil. To do this, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, have a large bowl full of ice water ready. Submerge the basil leaves in the boiling water for about 10-15 seconds until they’re just wilted.
Remove them and plunge them into the bowl of ice water.
Drain the leaves and pat them dry with paper towels to remove as much water as possible. Place the basil in a blender along with the oil. Blend on high speed until it is pureed.
At this point, you can use the basil oil as is. Or if desired, you can strain it through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. If straining, push gently on the solids to extract all of the oil. Season the oil with salt to taste. The basil oil can be refrigerated for 1-2 weeks.